Up in the Air (2009) BBC 2 11.10 directed by Jason Reitman
Posted by celticman on Sat, 16 Nov 2013
I’ve not enjoyed a film as much for a long time. Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) plays the kind of man I should hate. His job is to roam, first class, of course, over the United States firing employees for bosses to chicken to do so themselves. It’s a growth industry. Some of the early scenes were based on transcripts of former employees’ real life experiences. I’m sure men in employed in such an industry are not as suave as Ryan/George (or myself). Industries employed in such activities, such as the shipyards on the Clyde that set to lose 850 jobs, are always seen as being saved. Share prices invariably shoot up. A win-win for everyone, apart from the losers, but they don’t count. Anyway, back to the film. Ryan/George loves his life and loves his job. When asked where he comes from he says I’m from here. By here he means first class travel, first class hotels and first class women. He meets Alex (Vera Farmiga) on one of his flights of fancy in the lounge of hotel. She gorgeous with her clothes on and even more gorgeous without. In the interest of a good review I admit to looking when she was lying topless on bed wearing a thongy thing. BBC 2 does not have rewind so the narrative continued with them texting back and forth and agreeing to meet again- which they do. She describes herself as him, with a vagina, which made me laugh out loud. Sad really. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. Ryan is also a motivational speaker. He tells others how to strip themselves down, build themselves up and become more self-centred. The catalyst for change is a twenty-three -year old efficiency expert (Anna Kendrick) who had worked out a protocol for Ryan’s boss, a more efficient way to sack folk by doing it online and saving all those air miles, with the perks of first class travel, hotels and inefficient meetings. Cutting costs that would stop Ryan doing what he does best, which is being charming. There’s a stop off for his sister’s wedding and Ryan is told by his sister, in another line that made me laugh, ‘You’ve not been around much. Basically, you don’t exist.’ Ryan, of course, comes good and smooths the groom’s pre-marriage jitters. He also finds that Alex is more like him than he’d like to admit when he turns up unexpectedly as her house and finds she’s got a family and a life outside work. It’s a love story without love. In a turnaround, the character we hate the most, the twenty-three year old expert about everything, sacks herself with a text to Ryan’s boss and gets a real job. She even gets a chance to be funny. Not many efficiency experts ever do. All in all, Up in the Air, is a fable for our times, with Mr big Pig with his nose in the trough, just another deluded animal. I’m sure there’s a moral there somewhere, waiting to be sold.